Three Trips that have changed my life

Travel can be fun, but it can also be a grind.  Over my 60+ years of life I have had the good fortune to see and visit some interesting places, both within the USA and outside of our country.  Many of these trips have been with my wife and family, but a few of them have been solo or with work colleagues.  I’ll share a little today about three of these trips that have made a big impact on my life and my perspective.

  1. Kuwait-I traveled to Kuwait City in 2006 and 2007 as part of a group that delivered a leadership development curriculum to a bank in that country.  The opportunity for that trip came from a professor and friend I had while attending Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in the 1994-1996 time period.  While the material we discussed was certainly interesting, the real growth and learning for me came from the fact that at any one time I had 8-10 countries represented by my students.  They came from Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Great Britain and other places.  The humbling part of the process was that all of them were multilingual while I am monolingual.  As an American, I felt somewhat ignorant to be among others who were much more worldly than I and who were able to converse in my native tongue as readily as their own.  The multilingual issue will surface again one of my other influential trips, but my key learning here is that you learn much more about yourself and your country when you view it from outside of the confines.  Hearing the thoughts about America from  those outside of our country spoke volumes about our intended and unintended actions and how they are perceived.
  2. Japan-I worked for a Japanese-American joint venture in the automotive industry from 1989-1994.  At the beginning of this tenure I spent two weeks in Japan learning about the Japanese partner and their manufacturing processes.  This was the longest trip I had taken up to this time and it also occurred shortly after the birth of our first son.  Even more, I missed his first birthday while on the trip.  Seeing Japan, especially Tokyo, helped impress upon me how wasteful we are here in American, especially when it comes to space utilization.  In addition, the multilingual abilities of many of my Japanese colleagues and a few of the Americans was also a humbling experience.  This trip was also an early exposure to cultural differences and how they play out in the workplace.  For a young manager this was such a valuable time in my life.
  3. Hawaii-My wife and I ventured to Oahu and Kauai for our 25th anniversary.  The first segment of this trip was on Oahu and we then took a short trip to visit the paradise called Kauai.  Our visit to Pearl Harbor was so impactful for me because it put me squarely on the footprint of a pivotal part of our history, one that influenced my life and my family due to my father serving in the Marine Corps in World War 2.  If there had been no attack, who knows how our family would have formed.  Additionally, the trip to Kauai, especially to the Hanalei area, provided me with one of the most beautiful and relaxing visits ever.  The helicopter ride on the island provided breathtaking views that I remember to this day.
  4. Great Britain-This is a bonus destination.  In 2011 I had the good fortune to visit Great Britain twice, once to Milton Keynes and the other trip to the Bournemouth area.  While in Bournemouth I visited Poole and took a ferry to Brownsea Island, the location of the first Scouting leadership training by Lord Baden Powell.  As a Scouter with two Eagle Scout sons, being on this hallowed ground was the culmination of learning about Scouting and the history of the movement.  The leadership training I did while there was great also, but Brownsea Island was the highlight.

Learning comes to each of us in many ways.  Experience is a great teacher and travel opens the door to seeing and experiencing things you will never feel any other way.  I could have added other trips to this list, but these three stand out as trips that really changed how I work, life and play.

Where have you been and what have you done that has changed your view?